A FORMER Shields Gazette reporter-turned-author has written her latest book with the help of an unusual source – her readers.
Bea Davenport’s new children’s novel, My Cousin Faustina, was produced as part of a scheme to encourage children to read.
Bea wrote a chapter a week for the project, which was then published online for children in schools around the world.
At the end of each chapter she gave the pupils three options for what the characters would do next and the youngsters voted for their favourite plotline.
Bea, from Berwick, Northumberland, then wrote the next chapter based on the votes. She said: “It was quite a challenge and very different from the way my books are normally written.
“It was a great way to interact with the readers, and I’ve made friends with schools and children as far away as Australia.
I love writing, especially for children, and this gave the whole process added interest.Bea Davenport
“I love writing, especially for children, and this gave the whole process added interest.”
My Cousin Faustina, published by ReadZone, was written as part of the project run by British interactive e-book firm Fiction Express and is out now in paperback.
She added: “Another exciting thing was that the readers can comment on the Fiction Express blog.
“So every day I would get messages from children saying how much they were enjoying the story and telling me what they liked about it. That was very rewarding indeed.”
In the fast-paced and spooky novel, life is perfect for golden boy Jez until he comes home one day to find a mysterious girl in his kitchen.
Faustina claims to be a distant cousin and charms everyone around her – except for Jez, whose life suddenly gets worse and worse. And then he discovers just what Faustina is up to.
Bea added: “Fiction Express has won an award for its innovation and the thought that this helped to encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book is wonderful.”
The book is the second children’s novel penned by Bea, the writing name of former journalist Barbara Henderson.
Her first, The Serpent House, was written as part of her creative writing PhD at Newcastle University, and was published by Curious Fox.
She has also written two adult crime novels, In Too Deep and This Little Piggy, both published by Legend Press.